Gifts from the Frontlines...
For those who show up...however they can for love
I admit that I may have a problem...I love my life and what I do but... sometimes my need for distraction gets a little alarming. Police procedurals work well. I like the ones, which are not too bloody, and generally where they get the bad guy (or girl) within the 45 minute format. I am not above "Cozy Mysteries" in the English genre traditions, too. Science fiction is also a good fit for me as I like science and new, interesting ways of thinking about humanity and our collective learning edges. All these shows reinforce my idea of a hopeful but, indeed, changing world; they also relax my mind, a bit, and take me out of other people's stories, of which I hear quite a lot.
They are also a form of rest. Restorative activities, ones that we can take in, are very important to find and employ. Right? Maybe digital detox can work in reverse. It eases the stories out of our heads and programs us with new stories...this can be good, as long as we are discerning in our choices, right?
But what is too much? Two shows? Four shows? Six in a row?
Let's set aside the addictive way each new show on Netflix (and other streaming services) rarely end on a satisfying note. They create a skillful climactic up tick that hooks and funnels you into the next episode (STARTING IN 3 SECONDS...). HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
More Qualitative than Quantitative: meditation as discernment
The real question that is up for me is: What is underneath my need for distraction? The answer could be very different on different bingeing...days. Maybe it is boredom? Or fatigue? My own lack of imagination? Maybe it is fear?
This is why I must meditate each day....to be awake to what I am doing and how I am using my time...because none of us have all the time in the world.
Here is another question that came to me from my spiritual director because she knows my need to strive. (I can't help it; efforting is part of my inbred prairie constitution.) Here it is. See if it changes your life, like it is changing mine.
What is the highest return on my soul's mission... &
(wait for it...) EASIEST for me to do? - Rev. Dr. Megan Wagner
Maybe the distraction is generative? Or perhaps, it is bridging me to some insight.
Maybe it is play.
Play Daily is a rule of mine. Play is part of the journey...actually maybe it IS the journey. What if, (and this is another question from that same wise woman...) it was of the UPMOST importance to the Universe, (to the Holy, to the Almighty, to the Holy One of Many Names,) that we are in play and joy?
What if that was the ultimate use? It is an important question, right up there with how much MORE can I do? More. More. More, which leads to the idea that we don't have enough ...or are not enough just as we are.
It is good marketing, of course, for product sales but not fodder for the good life. Gratitude is fodder for a good life. It is a superpower.
My Playtime: Did I mention that I am recording an audible book?
(I am also binge watching a Canadian Sci Fi series called The Travelers, which is a kinder and gentler bodysnatchers who are trying to save the world in 3 seasons. It is thoughtful...and a lot of fun.)
Have fun today... that is our job, too.
Have you seen "On the Basis of Sex..."? The thing is...it all started with a caregiver.
It's a well done movie–relevant recent history about gender equality. But the thing is...the revolution started with a caregiver. A good son was caregiving his mother and he got slammed by the IRS saying THAT deduction was only for men.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the ACLU found it to be a perfect test case to start challenging all the laws that we now take for granted. All of you caregivers out there will relate to this poor guy's daily grind. Mom in a chair, dementia eating away at her, him stuck in the chaos and he's got another battle with the IRS.
Go see the movie. It is an important and healthy distraction...while you do it...remember what you are doing matters.
I have started a daily practice of gathering serendipitous wisdom from the day. I have a plan to create something more public–perhaps a video or audio daily live chat called "The Good Enough Daily". It is on a long list of possibles: TBD.
But until then, let me tell you about them on the hopes that it may inspire you to do the same. Here are some I use...there are so many card decks out there...
I draw cards as part of my waking up process...usually with coffee. They are part of my own spiritual practices each day to help me taking care of myself...and keep my inner balance as I take care of many each day as a hospice chaplain.
This is also for the fifteen MILLION unpaid caregivers who are doing the daily, chaotic work of caring for their infirm loved ones.
Much like my weekly sound meditations in San Francisco, I listen for what is 'in the room'. There I ask people to <quickly> check in:
It's a form of meditative improv in service of love. So is drawing cards every morning.
Improv 'What is" is one of the rules in the Fieldguide. Any of its many forms of implementation is a good practice for me. You see my (prairie, bootstrapped) inclination is to want to get 'it' perfect and over prepare for whatever...
Life is not that way. All I (and you) have to do is show up knowing we are enough...and worthy to be participating in what is in front of us. Then we do the best we are able. Both (preaching) ministers at my Unity Church in San Francisco are stellar at improv on the stage...but for me it is a learning edge.
Because we all have our edges. At last Sunday's meditation, several people spoke about the edge between what shows up in the world and what shows up inside us...and then there is the pause. This is the place of choice...do we choose to react, respond? Are we triggered? Are we needing to be right? This is the same edge for us all.
Reading the Day
It is in same way that I draw several cards from my various (and lovely) spiritual card decks each morning and take a moment (but not too many moments...) to see if there a pattern to the cards drawn. I then read this wisdom and speak about it for eight minutes, because who has a lot of time in the mornings?
...and I have theme music, too. "Good Enough" by Karen Drucker. She is awesome, if you are not familiar with her as both a songwriter and a performer. Check out her song if you want a lift to your day.
An eclipsing moon in the East greeted me when opening my door to the still dark day. Before early morning chores (before I fed my two cats—Smith and Wesson, before even coffee…), I saw, but did not know, if the show was almost done or just beginning. However, I knew with a different part of me that it was to be spectacular.
This is the oh-so-human way of discerning: head and heart. These days, as a hospice chaplain, and caregiver to caregivers, I listen more carefully now.
The eclipsing heart is unbalanced... (read more...click below)
The Kaiser palliative RN symposium where I was speaking about resilience for pro caregivers...and my book...was easy (and went quite well) once I stopped reading my notes and spoke from my heart. I don't know how many times I need to learn this lesson—speaking with people, not at them.
It is so easy at bedside in hospice (or supporting my bereaved) to still my noisy mind, listen deeply and respond from that place...or let the space be empty. In good design, they call it "white space".
But... it feels so different when sixty-five palliative nurses are watching you, waiting for my amplified words to fill the gap between us—my words.
Oddly, it's not. As a chaplain and a woman of (growing all the time) faith, I agree with the radical French Jesuit theologian, paleontologist and geologist, Teilhard de Chardin, when he said:
"We are spiritual beings, having a human experience."
If that is true (and I have ample life, bedside and death bed evidence of this), then there is just one of us here, or at minimum we are nuclear family. My point about speaking up (and speeches) is that we are all among family—all the time.
Sweet, right? (And, it's a better tactic than imagining all of you/us naked...)